LANSING (WWJ/AP) – State Natural Resources officials say two Bay County men face charges after a cougar was illegally killed in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Officials said Friday that conservation officers arrested the men after receiving a tip that the cat was killed at a hunting camp in northeast Schoolcraft County.
A trail camera photo of a cougar near the same area as this incident was recently confirmed by the DNR’s Wildlife Division. Officials believe the animal killed was most likely the same cougar seen in the recent photo.
The case will be turned over to the county prosecutor. The penalty for illegally killing a cougar, classified as an endangered species in Michigan, is up to 90 days in jail with fines and restitution of up to $2,500.
Cougars, also known as mountain lions, disappeared from the state in the early 1900s. The last confirmed wild cougar in Michigan prior to 2008 was an animal killed near Newberry in 1906.
Since 2008, the DNR has confirmed photos or tracks of cougars on 23 occasions in 10 Upper Peninsula counties. The animals are believed to be young individuals dispersing from established populations in the Dakotas in search of new territory. There is no evidence of a breeding population of cougars in the state.
Anyone with information about this or any other poaching case is encouraged to call the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800. Information can also be reported online at www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.
Tips and information can be left anonymously; information that leads to an arrest and conviction is eligible for a cash reward funded by the state’s Game and Fish Protection Fund.
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